Religion

Post about Religious topics. My spiritual journey is a subtopic of this.

Two Types of People

It is an old cliché, “There are two types of people…” Those who divide the world into two types of people, and those who don’t. I tend to think more in terms of continua and less in terms of binary oppositions. Nonetheless, it is a valuable rhetorical device.

One such example is the quote attributed to Helen Keller, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” It is tempting to head off on a direction about the life of fear that seems to grip so many in our nation today, and the life of adventure. I choose adventure.

This came to mind this morning as I was reading some of Scott Cairns’ “Short Trip to the Edge”. On page 178, (at least in my copy of the book), he says,

Sometimes I think there are two Orthodoxies (as, perhaps, there are two Christianities) – the mystical faith of those who glimpse how little we know (and are drawn and driven by love), and the cranky faith of those who appear to know everything already (and wish the rest of us would either agree with them or disappear).

This resonates with me on several levels. It seems that those of us drawn and driven by love and willing to admit not knowing everything are too few and far between in politics. Likewise, it feels like the discernment process, at least in my branch of the Jesus Movement, fails to embrace those of us drawn and driven by love who admit to not knowing everything.

It feels like allowing God to shape and change me doesn’t fit with institutions that want to do the shaping themselves, perhaps out of fear of confronting changes they need to look at.

Yet again, perhaps we are confronting a false dichotomy. It is not binary oppositions, it is a continua. Our journey is to recognize what we don’t know, where we aren’t as loving as we could or should be and asking God change us in these areas.

The Snowflake

I pause to consider
the snowflake
that has landed
on the handle of my shovel.

Was it part
of the waters
that were separated
from the dry land
on the third day?

Was it part
of the sweat
that fell from Adam’s brow
after he was cursed?

Was it part
of the great flood
God sent
to destroy corruption?

Was it part
of the river
that brought
the infant Moses
to Pharaoh?

Was it part
of the Red Sea
that Moses
parted
providing a path
for the Israelites?

Was it in the Jordan River
when Jesus was baptized
or in the jars of purification
at the wedding feast?

Was it part
of the water that flowed
from the pierced side
of Jesus?

Did it irrigate
hazelnut trees
in the time of Julian
in Norwich?

And what will become of it
after it melts,
flows into the pond
and rejoins
the great cycle
of evapotranspiration?

“It lasts
and ever shall
for God Loves it”

Making Eden Great

Now the serpent was more crafty
than any of the wild animals
the LORD God had made
and he said to Adam and Eve,
“I’m going to make Eden great again.
I will be the greatest president
that God ever created.”

When they heard the boasts
and found them pleasing to the ear,
they cast their vote for the serpent
and elected him their leader.

Then they heard the sound of the Lord God
walking in the garden
and they were afraid,
so they said to the serpent,
build a wall to keep us safe
and drive out those who are different from us.

When the Lord heard this he said,
“Because you have done this
by the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
from which you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”

Yet still the serpent boasted
“and when I return to dust,
I’ll be the greatest dust ever”,
and the serpent’s daughter
made fancy clothes
that were too expensive
and nobody liked
and tried to sell them in the stores.

And so the serpent started working on his agenda
And he attacked the judges and reporters
That thwarted or criticized him
And he said
“Nobody knew that healthcare
could be so complicated.”

Virgin Mary Crushing a Snake

In Orthodox iconography
we often see
the bare foot
of the Blessed Virgin Mary
crushing a snake.

It is a symbol
of her victory over evil
her willingness
to be a servant
of compassion.

In recent years
the snake has been co-opted
in alt-right iconography,
a symbol of defiance
and fierce independence
leaving little room
for servanthood
to compassion.

Don’t tread on me, Mother Mary.

A Meta Narrative on Sensitivity

According to the Pew Research Center, President Trump has the highest rating among Republicans during the first month of his presidency since Ronald Reagan. He also has the lowest rating among Democrats and overall. What are we to make of this?

A starting point is that the problem is much bigger than President Trump. I saw an interesting discussion which may shed some light on this in a Facebook writers group. Someone posted to the group about an article in the Chicago Tribune, Publishers are hiring 'sensitivity readers' to flag potentially offensive content.

The post has now gotten ninety five comments ranging from “I'm sorry, but this is ridiculous.” and “Hmm, next, ban drama since it may cause negative emotional reactions” to “It's just another type of editing, I don't see anything to get up in arms about” and “This sounds like a great idea. It'll hopefully stop authors accidentally writing very offensive things”.

Others talk about losing the scare quotes and “sensitivity writer” and about how when people see the word “sensitivity” they get all up in arms. Another person noted, “Sensitive to sensitivity as a concept. It's totally meta, man”.

Where does this backlash against sensitivity and political correctness come in? My academic friends may see this as a reaction to emerging counter-narratives and my friends interested in issues of diversity and justice, may think of the quote “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression”. Yet I’m not sure that helps us find any sort of middle ground, and others suggest that there can be no middle ground with evil or oppression.

I think the blog post by Bishop Doug Fisher puts it into a good context, Desiring a Christ-Centered Life, Not a Trump-Centered Life

“Will you seek and serve Christ in ALL persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?”

“Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” With God’s help, we can do that.

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